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In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic. Anthony Askowitz is the broker-owner of South Florida’s largest RE/MAX office, and a working agent who sells more than 100 homes each year.
This month’s situation: As the market shifts, a broker is trying to hang on to all the new agents who joined the company when things were hot — but who now realize how tough the business is.
Of course, his longtime agent believes the company and its clients will be much better served by letting these opportunists (in her opinion) move on, allowing the experienced veterans like her reap the benefits of their loyalty and experience.
How can the broker maintain a balance that allows him to keep the new agents long enough for them to gain experience and become the veterans of tomorrow?
Here we go again! Every time we have a market shift, we either have a flood of new licensees knocking at the door wanting a piece of the action, or jumping ship because they actually have to do more than put a sign in the yard to sell a house. I really like my broker, but he has this habit of hiring anyone who fogs a mirror.
I’ve been asked why I resent these new licensees when they can’t really compete with my years of experience and knowledge and are not a threat to take any business from me. My answer is: They breathe my air. They may not take any business, but they do take time, energy, attention and funds to train, manage, support and market.
Until that agent is productive, the resources that go into the agent come from top performers, and time that the support team has to provide for agents like me gets depleted.
When I need help, it’s to address a real problem, not to decide what color to use in a brochure, or how to write a letter. In my opinion, it dilutes the value of our brand to have newbies out there using our logo. I just don’t want to see our quality diminished, and wish my broker would restrict his hiring to only top producers. I wouldn’t even mind the added in-house competition.
What my agent is saying has merit, but she isn’t seeing the big picture. A good broker must always keep his pipeline of agents filled, just as his agents must fill their own pipelines of business. If he doesn’t, he risks the survival of the company, as his current producers age out.
The reality is that hot markets are excellent recruitment tools, which all brokers use to their advantage.
While there are always growing pains with any new agent, I also believe that “new blood” adds to the company in more ways than one. Experience and years in the business do not always equate to success.
Too many agents become set in their ways and allow their marketing and sales techniques to become stale. The energy of fresh perspectives — and yes, the competition that comes with them — can really add to the mix and bring positive results all the way around. At the same time, there is tremendous value in having the newer agents deal with the challenges presented by market shifts, and to sharpen their negotiating and survival skills as a result.
How to resolve
The agent’s point about brand reputation takes precedence in this situation. The broker must act as the gatekeeper for that reputation and take the responsibility to heart.
Although it is important to have a constant flow of new licensees to replace those who leave, every agent invited to join the company should be required to meet certain criteria, competency and performance benchmarks.
Brokers who maintain steady bases of agents with little turnover ensure that new licensees are properly trained and mentored — beyond attending sporadic classes at the local association — comprehend the financial obligations that come with the job and clearly understand the ups and downs of market cycles. This ensures stability and a pool of agents who will not quit when things get difficult.
Experienced top producers may grumble about the demands new agents place on office brokers and staff, but they should also make themselves available to mentor rookies through emerging challenges. They may also do well to remember that they, too, were new agents once upon a time, and likely benefitted from the advice of people in their current positions.
Agents don’t just miraculously become top producers. It takes years of training, coaching, encouraging and molding to reach that level. Agents need to feel broker support proportionate to their level of success, or the company runs the risk of losing them to down markets or competing offices.
Anthony Askowitz is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty, with offices in Hollywood Beach, Davie, Miramar, North Miami, South Miami, Kendall, and the Florida Keys, and where he leads the activities of more than 190 agents. Follow him on Instagram.
NOTE: Anthony Askowitz is not an attorney and does not give legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney regarding matters discussed in this column.